For nearly 50 years the Ringling circus has been operated by family, the carnival family, that is. But after the final acts in May scheduled in New York and Rhode Island, 500 people will be out of work and will have to find another way to supplement their income.

Moving forward

The people who made up the circus were its family of performers, such as acrobats, clowns, and animal trainers. But the makeup is slower to put on, the glitter is turning into dust, and the glamorous spotlight will be switched off. "I am sad and devastated because I was born and raised in Ringling," said Ivan Vargas to Tampa Bay Times.

He is a 12 year clown performer with Ringling and his parents were clowns before him. The costume he wears might be the last memory of the Circus he called home.

Juliette Feld, the chief operating officer of the entertainment company that bought the rights to Ringling will make sure the company works with the 500 workers in transitioning to other jobs and career paths which will include resume and interview workshops and learning the skills to compete in the job market. Housing will also be offered to those who live on the trains that ride around the United States and often ride the two-mile train that housed all the circus memorabilia to perform the shows.

The decision to move forward with ending the circus was due to a decline in ticket sales and attendance, as well as the cost of maintaining some of the people, animals, and equipment -- the company was unable to break even and fell into debt.

The company will provide the workers with severance packages for their years of performing. The company is also working on discussing locations for its 50 animals to retire and live happily.

Final finish

Two years ago Ringling paid $25 million in settlement claims to the Humane Society. The claim in court was that the abuse and mistreatment of animals is not appropriate with today's views.

The 14-year fight with the society ended with the removal of the elephants. But the society is now overcome with joy to see the final big top shutting down and moving on with the times. For the society it is a victory, for Ringling, it is a depressing goodbye. But now that the final chapter has been written, it is the end of an era and the end of the most spectacular show on Earth.